Article written

  • on 06.03.2014
  • at 09:00 AM
  • by Kevin Hind

Cape Town’s Pretend Partnership 0

There have been only a few instances in my life where my reflex response to a situation has been to throw up. One of these occasions was last Monday night − and the impulse lasted almost three hours.

The Cape Town Partnership (CTP) presented a “debate” on including Cape Town’s citizens in World Design Capital projects. According to the World Design Capital website, the World Design Capital is an international biennial city promotion project that is held in a different city every two years. It highlights the accomplishment of cities that have used design as a tool to improve social, structural and economic life. This year it is in Cape Town. The debate was held at The Assembly, which on most other nights is a club.

According to the Partnership’s website, it “was formed in 1999 as a non-profit (section 21) organization to mobilize and align public, private and social resources towards the urban regeneration of Cape Town’s central city”.

I was excited. Here was an opportunity to engage constructively on this controversial topic with people at the top level of the CTP. The invitation, which I received via email, said the debate would be around including “people from all walks of life” in World Design Capital projects.

I wasn’t sure what all walks of life meant, but I had a feeling the bouncer outside was there to limit those walks. I walked upstairs, and was immediately struck by confusion.

First up, with the exception of about 15 of the 250 people there, everyone was white. Where was the rest of Cape Town? Granted, the majority of them live out of the city on the Cape Flats and in the Northern Suburbs, but with words like “ordinary people” and “active citizens” in the invitation, surely they would have been informed about the event through flyers and posters, and public transport would have been organized for them?

I was lucky enough to meet the project manager, Caroline Jordan, at the bar, where I was redeeming my soft drink voucher (why is Appletiser never included as a soft drink?) and could ask her the questions directly.

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